Niles and Holland are two nine-year-old twins who live with
their family on a Connecticut farm in the 1930s. They are
taught by their grandmother to play a supernatural game. When
accidents occur and events take a murderous twist, the increasingly
unsettling relationship between the twins comes under scrutiny...
is another one of those films that's difficult to discuss
without giving away major spoilers in the storyline. But I
suppose I'd better give it a go, otherwise we'll be here all
day discussing such mundane trivialities as the quality of
the print (which, since you're asking, is very poor. I have
off-air VHS recordings of films from the 80's which have stood
the test of time better than this. Sadly, no attempt seems
to have been made to clean up the print at all and it shows).
Originally released in 1972, The Other is an adaptation
of the spooky novel by Tom Tryon, brought to the big screen
by To Kill A Mockingbird director Frank Mulligan. The
troubled twins at the centre of the story are sensitively
played by Chris and Martin Udvarnoky, and the film is also
notable for an early appearance from the late John Ritter,
although sadly he gets to do very, very little.
fact, this tends to be the biggest weakness of the film -
other than the twins and their slightly potty Grandmother,
nobody seems to get up to anything of much interest. Whilst
there are subtle shades of The Omen bubbling beneath
the surface, and even a brief sniff of The Sixth Sense
twenty-five years before it's time, you spend much of the
film's duration wondering if you have stepped into nothing
more sinister than a slightly odd episode of Little House
On The Prairie.
so we come to the film's 'twist'. Unusually, the big twist
occurs only halfway through the film, leaving the last half
to play out the repercussions of the revelation. Whilst I'm
not going to give any spoilers away here, it has to be said
that even a lamb would have spotted it coming within ten minutes
of the opening credits. Maybe we're a more discerning breed
of viewer these days, and the twist may well have had more
impact on the film's original release over thirty years ago,
but it does seem to me that the over-the-top crescendo that
is the supposedly 'revelatory' scene is completely redundant
and will leave the modern viewer cold.
the film does begin to pick up a little once the twist is
out of the way, as we become genuinely interested in the final
outcome of this small drama, but it's too little too late.
Further shocks and surprises seem to be signposted but never
really materialise - the climax of the film is a little ambiguous
and ultimately, rather flat. Whilst never having read the
original novel myself, I am reliably informed that the book
delves far deeper and gives a much clearer final picture of
features on the disc are minimal - a trailer, image gallery,
shooting scripts and, curiously, music cue sheets of Jerry
Goldsmith's original score (over half of which was cut during
post-production of the film).
I'm sure The Other could be regarded as a reasonably
entertaining film if you're after something light and not
too taxing or rewarding, but this reviewer was left with nothing
more than an urge to watch a couple of the really good films
it vaguely reminded him of.
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